Access To Health Insurance ≠ Access To Health Care

A few years ago Massachusetts enacted health reform under Governor Mitt Romney that guaranteed insurance coverage to every resident of the state. How successful has this been?

It depends on what you want to measure. When it comes to increasing access to health care, it has been an unqualified success.  According to the Economist, only 1.9% of Massachusetts residents were uninsured in 2010.

Massachusetts’ health reform has not been able to offer universal access to health care or to constrain costs. “ One in five working-age adults say they have trouble finding a doctor who will see them…Spending on MassHealth, the program for the poor, rose 40% between 2006 and 2010….average monthly premiums rose by 12% between 2006 and 2008. True, a higher share of firms now offer coverage, but they are also shifting costs for that coverage to employees”

Massachusetts is trying to legislatively block health premium increases.  Reducing health insurance cost, however, will likely drive down provider reimbursement and either increase cost sharing or decrease access to health care.

The key take away from this is the following: “Access to health insurance does not guarantee access to health care.”